This past weekend I attended The One Project–Chicago. I had two encounters on the way that made me pause. I failed to aid one person, while two others showed me what grace and compassion look like.
First, while I was in Union Station moving from Amtrak to a local Metra line, a young man in his late 20s or early 30s stopped me and asked for $6 or even just $1. I brushed him off, trying not to make eye-contact despite his repeated requests. “How do the city swindlers pick me out so easily? They always ask me! Well, I’m not falling for this sob story.”
Later, as I got off the Metra train, I needed to find a taxi. Since there were none around, I asked two ladies who had also been on the train if they knew where the motel was. I basically knew the way once I got pointed in the right direction. One of them looked it up on her iPhone, and off I headed for a 3 1/2 mile hike in the winter drizzle wearing my backpack.
After 10 or 15 minutes, I was surprised to see the two young ladies pull in front of me in their car. “We’ll give you a ride if you promise not to kill us.” They said I was the first person they’d ever picked up. I thanked them, saying I didn’t usually offer rides either.
“So where are you going?”
“To a conference about Jesus.”
“Well then I guess you won’t kill us after all.”
“And what were you two doing in Chicago?”
“Nothing about Jesus. [laughs] We spent two days drinking with some friends.”
“Well, I’m going to a conference where we’re going to talk about Jesus, but you two just did what Jesus would actually do–help out a stranger.”
Within a few minutes they covered the distance that would have taken me more than an hour to walk in the cold drizzle on poor sidewalks. I (the self-labeled Christian) had ignored a guy who needed help in Union Station, and these two ladies (the partiers) had been good Samaritans. Because I had a few hours until I could check in to the hotel, this comparison tumbled round-about in my mind as I sat on a metal bench with no distraction behind which to hide.
My children, we should love people not only with words and talk, but by our actions and true caring.
(1 John 3:18, NCV)